Saturday, November 26, 2011

My 60th birthday . . . a personal best

You can't avoid getting older.

You can avoid losing strength. Indeed, today, on my 60th birthday, I set a personal record on flat bench dumbbell presses. Check it out . . .

Train hard. Diet harder!



Wednesday, November 23, 2011

If America wants do deal with the health care crisis, Americans will lose weight

"The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds obesity has increased significantly over the past 20 years. Gallup's data reveal that Americans' self-reports of their own weight have also increased over the same period. Americans' average ideal weight has increased as well, showing men and women are adapting their ideal to their now higher actual weights. At the same time, the percentage of Americans who describe themselves as overweight has remained essentially unchanged over the past 20 years. While Americans are getting heavier, many may not recognize it or acknowledge it."

Sunday, November 13, 2011

What's the Best Alcohol to Drink when on a Diet?

You are not going to like this answer and neither did I.

When I am on a maintenance program, I can get away with a drink or two now and then. "Get away with" is the operative term, because the bottom line is simple and straightforward: alcohol is not healthy; alcohol causes fat retention; and alcohol impedes fat burning.

From the article below which I highly recommend to drinkers who diet, here are the facts:

"Instead of providing you such "permission" it is useful instead if you consider:
On fat loss programs, drinking alcohol is not recommended at all because alcohol suppresses fat oxidation and adds unnecessary calories to your diet, which either displaces nutritious calories or erases your caloric deficit.

For lifelong maintenance, it is recommended that if you choose to drink, that's fine, but only if you do so in moderation (1-2 drinks a day is considered moderation according to most health authorities).

Daily drinking is not recommended as part of a fitness lifestyle, because daily drinking can become habit forming. It is preferable if you can limit drinking to weekends, holidays and/or special occasions.

Try and ALWAYS be cognizant of the calories that are added to your diet through alcohol and above all else know how many calories are in your drinks."

Contrary to popular belief, it is not so much that the added alcohol calories are stored as fat, but rather, that alcohol reduces fat burning. Some evidence for this comes from research carried in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Eight men were given two drinks of vodka and sugar-free lemonade separated by 30 minutes. Each drink contained just under 90 calories. Fat metabolism was measured before and after consumption of the drink. For several hours after drinking the vodka, whole body lipid oxidation (a measure of how much fat your body is burning) dropped by a massive 73%!

All that said, I do "treat" myself on special occasions with a cocktail or two. Rarely, I will get together with friends or family for an outing and really pour it on. Even then, I select as low calorie alcohols as are available and never mix them with sugar, e.g., regular margaritas are out of the question. I also do it knowing that regardless how "good" I am, alcohol is bad if you want to stay lean. I am not anti-alcohol. I am simply saying there is a price to pay for drinking it and sometimes, rarely, I am willing to pay it. However, I never drink alcohol when I am trying to drop into a very lean state.

For more information, you will find an excellent article on drinking and dieting here:

Train hard; diet harder.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

When it comes to protein, don't shy away from these vegetables . . .

When leaning up, there is nothing that works better than bumping up your protein at the expense of your carbohydrate intake. Many people believe that means upping their meat intake, and in the case of some meats, it means overindulging on saturated fat -- the worst of the worst for your health. In fact, you can eat less meat and more of certain vegetables and nuts and end up leaner and healthier.

Take a look at his article from Shine entitled, "8 veggies, nuts, and grains with more protein than a burger."

Train hard; diet harder.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Should You Watch Action Movies Before Going to the Gym?

Showing athletes videos that were erotic, aggressive or related to training significantly improved strength in a subsequent workout:

Previous studies have shown that visual images can produce rapid changes in testosterone concentrations. We explored the acute effects of video clips on salivary testosterone and cortisol concentrations and subsequent voluntary squat performance in highly trained male athletes (n = 12). Saliva samples were collected on 6 occasions immediately before and 15 minutes after watching a brief video clip (approximately 4 minutes in duration) on a computer screen. The watching of a sad, erotic, aggressive, training motivational, humorous or a neutral control clip was randomised. Subjects then performed a squat workout aimed at producing a 3 repetition maximum (3RM) lift. Significant (P < 0.001) relative (%) increases in testosterone concentrations were noted with watching the erotic, humorous, aggressive and training videos (versus control and sad), with testosterone decreasing significantly (versus control) after the sad clip. The aggressive video also produced an elevated cortisol response (% change) and more so than the control and humorous videos (P < 0.001). A significant (P < 0.003) improvement in 3RM performance was noted after the erotic, aggressive and training clips (versus control). A strong within-individual correlation (mean r = 0.85) was also noted between the relative changes in testosterone and the 3RM squats across all video sessions (P < 0.001). In conclusion, different video clips were associated with different changes in salivary free hormone concentrations and the relative changes in testosterone closely mapped 3RM squat performance in a group of highly trained males. Thus, speculatively, using short video presentations in the pre-workout environment offers an opportunity for understanding the outcomes of hormonal change, athlete behaviour and subsequent voluntary performance.

Source: "Changes in salivary testosterone concentrations and subsequent voluntary squat performance following the presentation of short video clips" from Hormones and Behavior

Courtesy of

Sunday, October 2, 2011

The 5 Most Important Supplements

I usually take a fistful of nutritional supplements every day. In fact, most people are speechless when they see my daily regimen.

I also travel with them — putting each day’s allotment into plastic bags and stuffing them in my suitcase.

But I recently left the States for a four-week medical mission in Tibet and my gear was limited to 50 pounds. So there won’t be room for my usual supplement supply.

So I’ve had to decide…

“If I could only take five supplements, what would they be?”

I only had room for five supplements per day, so they had to be the really important ones.

So here they are. By the way… these are also the ones I recommend you begin with if you’re just starting out — or the ones you can cut back to if you need to save money. Anyway, here goes…

1. A high-quality multi-vitamin

Topping the list is an excellent quality multi-vitamin. This is essential because a multi “fills in the blanks” of your diet (no matter how good it is), so you’re not running dangerously low on the essential nutrients your body needs for optimal functioning.

Be sure to avoid the TV-advertised one-a-days you find in your local drugstore. These are nearly worthless because their ingredients are based on the “bare minimum” official Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), now upgraded to the Recommended Daily Intake (RDI).

The RDA evolved from the old Minimum Daily Requirement (MDR) set by the government. This means the nutrients in most of the popular multis contain the minimum doses necessary to prevent nutritional -deficiency diseases, such as scurvy (vitamin C), beriberi (vitamin B1), and others. This certainly is not how to guarantee optimal health.

These mainstream multis are notoriously feeble. For example, Consumer Reports recently concluded that Centrum is the worst vitamin for seniors in its class. (There goes that advertising revenue!)

Consumer Reports also found that The Vitamin Shoppe’s One Daily failed to dissolve in a simulated stomach environment, while containing less vitamin A than its label claims.

You can avoid this pitfall by sticking to high-quality, bioavailable multivitamins that are reasonably priced and lab-tested. One of my favorites is Ultimate Daily Support from Real Advantage, formulated by Dr. William Campbell Douglass. It’s a terrific multi that contains a broad list of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, amino acids, and enzymes that easily are absorbed and quickly bioavailable. This is the multinourishing my body in Tibet.

Another top-notch product is Forward Multi-Nutrient , formulated by Dr. Julian Whitaker, a friend and associate I’ve known for almost 20 years. Julian is a pioneer in the orthomolecular field and alternative medicine and has done so much to legitimize natural healing. He’s also a living legend who was mentored by Dr. Linus Pauling.

2. A quality omega-3 supplement

Fish oil is today’s bestselling supplement — and with good reason. The EPA (eicosapentaenoic acid) and DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) in omega-3 fish oil have profoundly positive effects on human health.

DHA slows your liver’s production of undesirable triglycerides, making it extremely protective against heart disease and diabetes.

In addition, fish oil is incredibly effective at reducing inflammation. It accomplishes this by triggering the release of prostaglandins (natural substances that regulate immunity, inflammation, blood clotting, brain function, plus a host of other essential functions).

There’s not enough room here to list all the healing effects of omega-3. The highlights include: Healing blood vessel walls … keeping the blood thin (thus minimizing clotting) flowing smoothly … lowering blood pressure … stabilizing blood sugar … and brightening your mood.

The American Heart Association recommends a daily dose of 500-1,000 mg of DHA and EPA from fish oil to reduce heart disease — but I think this is a paltry dose. I prefer to take 6,000 to 9,000 iu daily in three equal doses — and find this really helps my arthritis.

There’s just one problem. The huge demand for fish oil is wreaking havoc on marine life. Overfishing is depleting fish stocks and the oceans are on the brink of crisis.

Even oils extracted from krill (tiny, omega-3-rich crustaceans) are troublesome. That’s because krill are at the bottom of the ocean’s food chain — and larger fish depend upon them for life. Harvesting krill deprives all fish of their main food supply.

This is why I prefer to get my omega-3 from marine phytoplankton (also known as “micro algae”) these days.

Phytoplankton is the plant-based omega-3 food source that supplies krill and other fish with EPA and DHA. Raised in large, land-based tanks, phytoplankton is free of mercury contaminants, heavy metals, and ocean pollution. Its good stuff — and you’re not depriving fish of their food supply.

3. Co-enzyme Q-10

CoQ-10 (also known as ubiquinol) is a nutrient produced by the “energy factories” in your cells called mitochondria. Taking a CoQ-10 supplement boosts the way your cells produce and use energy. It also helps your body burn fat … improves cholesterol ratios … boosts your physical energy levels … and improves thyroid and pancreas functions.

By the way, statins — the widely — (or is it “wildly”?) prescribed cholesterol-lowering drugs — actually deplete your body’s natural CoQ-10. Statins block production of cholesterol in the liver, where CoQ-10 is also manufactured. Without sufficient CoQ-10, statins can cause liver damage … irregular heartbeat … muscle weakness … leg cramps … heart attack and stroke (the two potentially fatal conditions that statins are supposed to prevent).

Other medications also can limit your body’s production of CoQ-10, including: Diabetes drugs … antidepressants … female hormone replacement therapy … and blood pressure meds. If you take any of these, you definitely need to supplement with CoQ-10.

When shopping, labels may read “CoQ-10” or “Coenzyme Q-10”, but the more active form will be labeled “QH” or “ubiquinol.” This is a stronger form of CoQ-10, though purchasing that version isn’t essential, especially if price is an issue. Take 100 mg two or three times twice per day, because your body can’t metabolize higher doses.

4. Magnesium citrate

You’ve been hearing about calcium and bone health forever — but did you know that magnesium and calcium are like conjoined twins? Calcium can’t even be absorbed unless magnesium is present. Without it, calcium is much less effective in maintaining your bones and regulating your nerve and muscle tone.

In fact, new research shows that Americans need far more magnesium than the current RDI — and that you should really be consuming twice as much magnesium as calcium for optimal health.

Magnesium may be the most important mineral you can take because it’s a key player in 300 essential bodily functions, and is used by all of your organs. It activates enzymes … powers your energy … and helps your body absorb vitamin D, potassium, and zinc.

The majority of Americans are magnesium-deficient due to the low-quality, processed foods in the typical American diet. Produce grown in mineral-depleted soil won’t provide much magnesium, either.

If you have blood sugar issues, you should know that magnesium helps regulate blood sugar and insulin activity. In addition, magnesium’s ability to relax muscles and nerves makes it one of your best allies in the battle against anxiety … hypertension … restless leg syndrome … sleep disorders … and abnormal heart rhythm.

Consuming magnesium supplements can be challenging, as they tend to be large and difficult to digest. That’s why I like Natural Calm , a fruit-flavored magnesium powder that mixes easily in water. I take it in the evening because of its relaxing effect. Start with a low dose, because it can loosen your stools (not necessarily a bad thing if constipation is a problem). Another alternative is a topically-applied magnesium chloride liquid spray that’s absorbed through the skin, which won’t affect your bowels.

5. Sunshine vitamin D

This is rapidly becoming the miracle vitamin of our time. Every week, it seems, there’s a new finding about D’s marvelous benefits. Most Americans are badly deficient in vitamin D because doctors consider the sun our enemy — and your skin converts solar rays into this essential vitamin.

Numerous studies show that this amazing vitamin is protective against all cancers (even skin cancer and melanoma!) … strengthens bones … prevents and even heals diabetes … protects against heart disease … lowers blood pressure … reverses depression … and elevates mood.

Whenever you can, spend 10-20 minutes sunbathing — without sunscreen. (Your body transforms sunshine into all the vitamin D it needs.) If your access to sunlight is limited by season or geographic location, take 2,000-5,000 iu of a good quality vitamin D supplement daily. (The elderly and African-Americans need higher doses.) Official recommendations call for a scant 600 iu, which is far too low. Just make sure you purchase vitamin D3 (not D2) because the D3 form is 87% more potent than vitamin D2.

No more “supplement overwhelm”

Taking these five supplements should cover all the important bases and provide your body with optimal nutrition (provided you’re eating a healthy diet).

Now I’d like to hear from you. Do you have a favorite supplement that I’ve missed? Do you have a story about how a particular supplement or herbal remedy turned your health around?

Please share whatever’s on your mind about nutritional supplements here so we can all benefit from your experience.

Courtesy: shine by Yahoo

Thursday, September 15, 2011

11 Breakfasts That Come Wrapped In Your Death Certificate

If you are looking for an opportunity to cash in early on your life insurance, look no further.

Train hard; diet harder.


Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lose 57 pounds a year at your desk?


Just get your boss to buy you one of these for your desk and use it!

The gym and the office become one . . . Most cool!

Train hard; diet harder.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Every hour of TV = 22 minutes less life

That's right -- watching TV for an hour a day subtracts 22 minutes from your life -- about the same as smoking cigarettes. Take a look at the summary of the study here:

Worth it? Probably not.

Good news? 15 minutes of exercise everyday will add 3 years to your life.

So, if you want to live a long, healthy life, take 15 minutes of TV time out of your schedule and use them in some kind of fitness activity.

Train hard; diet harder.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Get Off Your Ass - Really!


Sorry it has been longer than I like since I last posted, but my work and travel and workouts have to come first.

I am fortunate in that I don't sit all day, although I could and probably some who try and reach me unsuccessfully by phone say I should.

But, sitting is bad, very bad.

I picked this up from Nerd Fitness recently and thought I would share it in a couple of installments . . .

"Sitting is one of those conveniences that can cause all sorts of damage to our body when done to excess – a.k.a. the typical sedentary American lifestyle.  I read a great article over on Mark’s Daily Apple that compared sitting to today’s modern shoes and sneakers.  Sure, your new Nikes might seem comfortable, but they actually weaken all of the muscles and joints in your feet and ankles by doing all of the stabilization work for you – your muscles grow weak, complacent, and bored because they have nothing to do.  This is a recipe for injury and disaster.

"Your core/hips/groin/legs are no different when it comes to sitting!

"When you sit down, your hip flexors (the muscles that work the movements between your pelvis and thigh bones – that crease between your thigh and groin) get tightened and shortened.  Meanwhile, your hamstrings and glutes (butt) get all stretched out.  Now obviously your muscles getting stretched and contracted  is a part of life – it’s these actions that allow us to do fantastic things like…move.  However, the problems arise when we keep these muscles in this non-standard state for hours upon hours at a time.

"Think of your muscles as glorified rubber bands – they can stretch and contract as you pull them.  Now, take a rubber band and wrap it around a basketball, stretching it to its limit for a few weeks.  When you come back and take that rubber band off the ball, it will have almost no elasticity and won’t be able to return to its original shape.  Or, it’ll just snap.  Crapola.

"If you’ve ever tried to do a heavy leg workout after a day filled with hours of sitting then you know what I’m talking about – you feel like an old man or woman with the flexibility of a steel girder.

And that’s just for our hips!

When you factor in slouched-over shoulders, a weakened lower back, a jacked up spine, and that hunchback look that we all adore (not), sitting in an office chair all day pretty much renders our body useless."

Bottom line: Get off your ass. Really. I mean it. Even if you work at a desk 8 or 10 or 12 hours a day, make it a habit to get up and walk around at least once every couple of hours. Do some body weight squats or seated chair squats against a wall -- anything to get the blood to your legs -- the biggest muscles in your body and the ones, if unattended, are most likely to give up earliest in your life.

More on this in the next post.

Train hard; diet harder!


Friday, June 17, 2011

Beware of breakfasts on the road . . .

You'd figure that it would be hard to pack too many calories and fat into a simple breakfast, but you'd be wrong.

​"Go to any breakfast chain out there and you'll probably find a meal with more fat in it than you're supposed to eat all day. You can't just order eggs anymore; your meal also comes with pancakes, hash browns, ham, sausage, bacon, and is topped off with cheese and gravy.

"Before each chain can invent their next bacon-covered monstrosity, San Francisco Weekly magazine counted down the top 10 artery-clogging breakfast options that America has to offer. It's based purely on fat (not calories) and they included a meal from each one of the nation's most popular breakfast chains."

The numbers are, well, staggering, disturbing (including the calories) . . .

Like the Caramel Pecanabon at Cinnabon -- over 1,000 calories for ONE, with more than 50 grams of fat.

But, you say, "I'd expect Cinnabon to blow out the calories."

OK, but how about Marie Callender's? Order their "Oh My Omelette" and you may reach for your chest before breakfast is over and utter these last words, "Oh, My!" -- 1,700 calories with almost 90 grams of fat.

Or Denny's and "The Grand Slamwich?" It will knock you out of the park. 1,310 calories and 89 grams of fat.

But the Mother of All Death Meals at Breakfast has to be IHOP's Big Country Breakfast with Chicken Fried Steak and Sausage Gravy. In round numbers, 2500 calories and 150 grams of fat and if you eat it you will be rounder than the numbers. Described as "Quick: you are a North American grizzly bear, it's late autumn, and you realized that you need to get as much fat as possible into your body as quickly as possible before a long winter of hibernation. Solution: go to IHOP*, which is both the runner-up and winner on this list of heart attack-inducing options. Your best (or worst?) option is the Big Country Breakfast. It's a 12 oz. chicken fried steak covered in sausage gravy, with three eggs, and three pancakes. If you can get down the whole meal, then you should win some kind of award and also probably just eat celery sticks and nothing else for the rest of your life."

Unfortunately, if you eat that many times the rest of your life may end before lunch.

You can see the whole article here:

Bottom line? Be as careful at breakfast as you are any other time you are caught away from home and are eating off menus where you cannot and do not review the nutritional information.

Train hard; diet harder.


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

17 days, double cardio and 5 pounds . . .

I have long preached the notion that you can't exercise enough to make up for the sins of a bad diet. I have known it but never experienced it, until now.

Kelly and I took off on a 17 day vacation in mid-April. We were treated to great hotels and restaurants and then to a week's cruise. No limits. No measuring. Wine and a cocktail every now and then. Deserts. Reminded me of the old days.

Stayed on the workout schedule, never missed and even did double cardio each day on the ship.

Deep down I was hoping it would work.

But hope is not a plan and I knew intellectually that no amount of exercise would compensate.

And, when I got home and got on the scales I learned that reason trumps hope, at least when it comes to your weight.

I put on 5 pounds in those 17 days.

Now, I am going to lose them and another 5 to get me sharp for the summer. Indeed, I am already on it.

FYI, I got an IPad 2, a habit worse than heroin, maybe even worse than cheesecake.

But I found some new diet and exercise software that runs on the Ipad that I like so much that I have switched. It is called "My Net Diary." More on some of its great features in a future blog.

Train hard. Diet harder! I will be.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Rest: Fourth Leg of Success

I talk a lot here about weight training, cardio and nutrition.  

What I have not focused on is the fourth leg of the stool:  REST.
Sure, hard training is critical to maximizing strength and muscle mass.  Most people who train don't train hard enough.  They go through the motions.  Too bad. 
Sure, cardio training is essential to keep the body fat down.
And, of course, proper nutrition is the fuel that allows us to do what needs to be done.  Garbage in, garbage out.

But, even with hard training, cardio, and proper diet, that combination is not enough to maximize performance results.

You also need rest.  It is rest that allows the muscles that you have broken down to heal and recover. It is the rest that allows you to recover so you can be strong, and thereby handle the increased weight, and increased number of sets and repetitions. 

The scientific explanation goes something like this:  "It is during sleep where growth hormone levels are at their highest. Physiologic improvement in bodybuilding can only occur during the rest period following hard training. This is also why consuming the proper foods and supplements immediately following such training is key."  (Behar,

When you are over 50, or even over 40 for that matter, you do not heal as quickly as the 23 year old who seems never to need rest.  Why?  Because he/she needs less rest than you do.  

Getting more rest is a key to muscle gains, plain and simple, and as you age the more it is true.

Unfortunately, that is easy to say but hard to execute. 
What about those days you go to the gym and look at the weight and say to yourself, "I can't do it today."

In some cases, you shouldn't do it that day.  You should turn around, go home and rest.

But, in some cases, like all of us, you're just being lazy.  Pushing and pulling heavy weight hurts and sometimes we just don't want to do it, even though doing it is exactly what we need.

Telling the difference between the need for rest and just being lazy is tough and for me I don't like to trust my judgment on it.  I will default to staying in the gym, overtraining and ending up injured.

So, here's what I do:  I take every 7th week off from the weights.  I continue cardio, proper diet, but I rest, really rest.  

It works.

If you find yourself tired too much of the time and you're not just putting your time in the gym but putting your heart into it, you may need rest, and the failure to get it will affect your gains, your mood, and will increase the likelihood of injury.

So, just like you work in protein into every meal, your cardio into every day, you also need to work in rest.

Train hard; diet harder, and don't forget to take time off.


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Weight Training: Not Just What, But When

Since starting to hit the gym hard a couple of years ago, Kelly and I have been working out as a start to our days -- usually between 6 a.m. and 8 a.m.

We never questioned whether that time was right.  It simply fit into our schedules.  We got our weight training in and then would do our cardio at the end of the day at about 6 or 7 p.m.   It worked and we never questioned whether there might be a better time of day to workout.

Then, on the way to the circus as it were, we found ourselves out of town and in a situation where early morning workouts didn't fit our schedules.  In making adjustments we found it easier to get up early and get the cardio in and then show up at the gym about noon.  We never thought it would be permanent or even make a difference.  It was simply the way it was.

But, we discovered something important:  It's not just what you do that is important.  It is when you do it.

What we found was that we were both noticeably stronger at noon than we had been at 7 a.m., even after doing our cardio session earlier in the morning.  And that was an important discovery.  The stronger you are the more weight you can lift.  The more weight you can lift, the more micro-tears in the muscle and the bigger the muscle will grow (assuming proper nutrition, protein balance, etc.)

This caused me to do a little research when we got back home and here's what I found - the pros and cons of working out early in the day . . .

Pros of early morning workouts:
• The majority of people who exercise consistently do so early in the day. It is easier to form the exercise habit through morning exercise.
• Fewer distractions and schedule interruptions.
• Can make time for exercise by getting up a bit earlier.
• Raises your heart rate and metabolism to burn more calories earlier in the day.
• Gives a feeling of physical energy for hours.
• Improves your mental acuity for hours.
• Cooler temperatures in summer.
• Air pollution is lowest in the morning.
• The body adjusts to your exercise time, so if you are training for a morning sports event, train in the morning.

Cons of early morning workouts:
• Body temperature is at its lowest 1-3 hours before awakening, making morning a time of naturally lower energy and blood flow.
• Cold, stiff muscles may be more prone to injury - be sure to warm up well before doing a higher intensity workout, and do gentle stretching.
• If you do not enjoy morning exercise, you won't easily form a habit by choosing a morning workout time.
• Because body temperature and hormones are higher in late afternoon, you probably get the same or better calorie-burning effects later in the day.

Bingo!  That explains why morning workouts were great in the beginning -- it got us into a habit.  It, unfortunately, also perhaps explains why I was suffering more injuries than I needed to.  Most importantly, it explains why later in the day (about noon) works for us best now -- we're more energetic, can hit it harder and heavier, and get in more sets.

Does that mean "noon" is the time to workout?  No.  It just means it is the best time for us now.  As we move through our development, it may be that we move the workout even further forward in the day, to say 5 p.m.  After all, some of the best bodybuilders in the world workout late in the day.  Or, we may find that we'd like to take advantage of the metabolic effects of working out in the morning and move it back to sometime early in the day.

Lesson:  Experiment!  See what's best for you and always be willing to try something new -- whether it is a new exercise or a time to exercise.

Train hard; diet harder!


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Decide What You Want to Exercise: Your Muscles Or Your Ego

I have the opportunity to work out in many different gyms in the United States and a few in Mexico and a dynamic I see more often than not is what I call "hero lifting."  It involves using heavy weight (much heavier than one can really handle) and handling it by lifting it (or more often than not) not lifting it properly.

A couple of examples:

Leg Press - The way this works your legs effectively is to put your feet low on the pad and bring your knees to your chest -- a full, long movement.  The "hero" move is to load a couple of extra plates on, put the feet high on the pad and drop it about 4 or 5 inches.  Or, even worse, drop it a few inches and then put the hands on the knees and help press it back up.  That's worthless to build leg strength but a great ego booster.  The same is true with squats and hack squats.  They are a cheater's paradise because the movement can be truncated easily so as to completely avoid working the quadriceps.

Bench Press - Same song, second verse.  A bench press involves bringing the weight to the chest, touching it lightly and then pushing it back to full extension.  The "hero" move is to load up the bar and drop it about 4 or 5 inches (sometimes even less than that) and then get up and make sure everyone in the gym has seen just how much weight you can (but really can't) handle.

Bottom line?  Decide what you want to work -- your muscles or your ego.  If the former, leave the latter outside the gym and just come in, work hard and do what you can do properly and effectively.

Train hard; diet harder.


Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Someone at McDonald's Didn't Get The Memo

As the U.S. Agriculture Department has recently Americans to "eat less."  Fast-food chain restaurants are ignoring the memo, adding menu items loaded with more calories, sodium and fat.

How about a footlong burger or a burrito stuffed with beef, cheese sauce and Fritos?


From the Los Angeles Times . . .

"A Big Mac without cheese has 540 calories, according to McDonald's Corp., twice as many as in one of the company's smallish regular hamburgers. By comparison, the company's new Angus Bacon Cheese Wrap has 790.

"Here are other recent or proposed items:

"• All-American Jack from Jack in the Box Inc. To debut during the Super Bowl, the sandwich will feature two jumbo beef patties and two kinds of cheese, with 840 calories. Make it a meal for $4.99 and the count goes up to 1,400.

"• Taco Bell Corp.'s Beefy Crunch Burrito meal: ground beef, rice, nacho cheese sauce, sour cream and spicy Fritos wrapped in a tortilla, plus cinnamon twists on the side and a medium soft drink, for a total of 1,390 calories. Now available.

"• Carl's Jr.'s Footlong Cheeseburger: Three cheeseburgers laid end to end on a 12-inch roll was a hit when the chain tested it at four Orange County restaurants last year. It has 850 calories and is under consideration to be a regular offering.

"• Burger King Holding Inc.'s Stuffed Steakhouse: a third of a pound of beef stuffed with jalapenos and cheese, at 600 calories. Fries and a drink make it 1,200 calories.  Now available."

Not surprising that many States now have more than 25% of their populations waddling around in the "obese" category.

Friends, this kind of eating is not just unhealthy.  It is dangerous.  This "food" (to use the term loosely) should come wrapped in your death certificate.  And, what's worse it increases the cravings for fat, salt, and sugar.

If you need a day where you forget about calories, no problem.  But even on those days, eat clean.  Eat more, but eat clean -- lots of lean chicken, turkey, plenty of vegetables and if you want something naughty make it nuts or peanut butter or even some ice cream. 

But not this.  Not now.  Not ever.

Train hard; diet harder.


(Original article:,0,4499158,full.story

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

"Is That You In The Mirror?" Probably Not If You're Eating At Taco Bell

"Is That You In the Mirror?" 

That's the title I gave my nutrition/fitness seminar because it asks the right question -- is who you see when you look in the mirror really you?  I spent years avoiding mirrors so as not to have to answer that question.  Now, after having lost 55 pounds and putting on a lot of muscle over the last couple of years, I can say, "Yeah, that's me in the mirror, and I like what I see."

It is really not difficult to get to that point in life.  It is simply a matter of deciding to do it and having a fool-proof system to get it done, one that provides the accountability we all need to get anything done.  (I will be at Fitness International in San Miguel de Allende this Thursday from 2 - 4 p.m. talking about it.  If you're in the area, come by. More dates in other locations coming soon . . .)

One of the few "rules" we play by at is this:  "If you can't tell what it was, don't eat it."  What I mean by that is so much of our food is so processed that you cannot tell what it once was in the original form.  You can tell a peanut was a peanut.  But you can't tell what your Coco Puffs once were, now can you?  Nope, you can't.  

We learned this lesson (again) today reading the papers about the lawsuit filed against Taco Bell.  Seems their meat is (alleged to be) only 35 percent beef.  The rest (65%) is a mixture that contains binders and extenders that includes wheat oats, soy lecithin, maltodrextrin, anti-dusting agents and modified corn starch.  The suit alleges that it doesn't even meet the minimum requirements set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture to be labeled "beef.” 

This is exactly the kind of "food," (to use that word loosely) that we should not eat -- ever.   Whether it meets the requirement to be called "beef" is an issue that will be decided by the courts.  The other issue -- "Can you tell what it once was?" has been resolved.  You can't.  You don't know what is in that taco.  You likely don't know how much fat, or how many calories, carbohydrates or protein is in it.  You don't know if those "binders" are genetically modified.  And, for sure you don't know what they mean to your health.

When people approach me and say, "I'm ready to make a lifestyle change . . .  but I still want to eat fast food," I smile knowingly.  They aren't ready to make a real change and they're not going to do it.  Sure, some will lose a few pounds only to put them back on and more.  

A lifestyle change means eating healthy and that means, first and foremost, knowing what you're eating.  

Train hard; diet harder.


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Good Pain/Bad Pain: Know The Difference

Hi, Team.

Well, the good news is my hip/leg injury is finally getting better.  Went to a specialist earlier this week and he confirms that no surgery is needed.  That's always a relief and brings me to the point  . . .

If you work out hard long long enough you become immune to the pain.  In other words, you can go hard and heavy for an hour to an hour and a half and stay focused.  You feel the pain but you get used to it.  It is at that point you have to be careful because you can go too far -- your muscles can take what you're dishing out but your tendons and ligaments may not and they will give you little or no warning before being damaged. 

That is a key to success for those have been at it awhile and I notice that when I watch champions like Jay Cutler and Phil Heath train, they often engage in a "rest-pause" a couple of times each set.  A part of it is getting a little additional rest but another more important part is feeling where they are.  They want to completely exhaust the muscle but not tear anything else up. 

This dynamic is something Kelly and I are focusing on more as we begin shaving down for Spring.  You are especially vulnerable to injury when you are on a calorie-restricted diet and if you've worked for months with a few excess calories, you are bigger, stronger, a lot stronger than you were going into the bulking phase.  As you move into the cutting phase, however, you cannot handle as much weight and if you try you will injure yourself sooner or later, probably sooner.

Train hard; diet harder, but always consider where you are in each set -- are you maximizing muscle tension or are you going too far?  After you have trained a while, you will know the difference between "good pain" and "bad pain."  Unfortunately, for most of us we only learn that through injury, hopefully none too severe.  A good trainer can help in this regard, too, but make sure and get one who will take you far enough! 

We will be training at Gold's Gym in San Antonio, Texas this Saturday morning -- should be fun!



Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Injuries - Part of the Game



It was a year and a half ago I went under the knife for an injury -- good news it was "fixable," bad news I was out 6 weeks.

Now I'm faced with another.  Not sure what the injury is exactly but I know it is taking too long to heal.  A doctor will give me the verdict on Monday.

I'm hoping and manifesting positive it is something that will self-correct over time but I am prepared for the worst which would be another surgery and time out of the gym.

Bottom line:  I'm not giving up.  Never will.  They can cut me until I'm just "parts," but I'll be in the gym and I'll be better than I was yesterday, regardless. 

There are no excuses.  There are only results.

Train hard; diet harder.